Christ is the chief shepherd, the leader of his flock: come, let us adore him.
Year: A(II). Psalm week: 3. Liturgical Colour: White.
St Swithun (- 862)
Little is known of St Swithun’s life. Born in Wessex, his name is sometimes spelled ‘Swithin’. He died on 2 July 862, though the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle says 861. He left orders that his body was not to be buried within the church but outside in a “vile and unworthy place”.
Egbert, King of Wessex, chose Swithun as his chaplain and entrusted to him the education of his son Æthelwulf, who succeeded to the throne in 839. Æthelwulf appointed Swithun Bishop of Winchester in 852 and during the ten years of his episcopate he became famous for his charitable gifts and for his activity in the building of churches. He is reputed to have accompanied King Alfred to Rome in 856.
His body was moved from its almost unknown grave into the Old Minster at Winchester on 15 July 971, and this day became his feast-day. His transferral was preceded and followed by numerous miracles. His body was probably later split between a number of smaller shrines. His head was certainly detached and taken to Canterbury Cathedral, while one his arms found a resting place in Peterborough Abbey. His main shrine was transferred to the present (then new) Norman cathedral of Winchester in 1093. His remains were installed on a ‘feretory platform’ above and behind the high altar (the feretory chapel still exists). His shrine became a great focus for pilgrims, and the cathedral’s retrochoir was built in the early 13th century to accommodate the large numbers of people wishing to visit his shrine and enter the ‘holy hole’ beneath him. His shrine was moved into the retrochoir in 1476. It was demolished in 1538 during the ‘English Reformation’, and a modern representation was placed on the site by the Dean and Chapter in 1962.
Other saints: St Osmund of Salisbury (-1099)
Plymouth: 2 Dec
Clifton, Hexham & Newcastle: 4 Dec
Osmund, bishop of Sarum or Salisbury, was Norman by birth, the son of Henry, count of Seez; he followed William the Conqueror to England. Here he became Royal Chaplain, until he was promoted to be Chancellor in 1072. He wrote royal letters and charters, obtaining useful experience as an administrator. In 1078 he succeeded Herman as Bishop of Salisbury. The see had been formed by uniting those of Sherborne and Ramsbury and making the new centre at Old Sarum, where the cathedral was built in the same enclosure as the royal castle. Osmund completed and consecrated this cathedral, and formed a chapter with its own constitution, which later became a model for other English cathedrals.
Osmund died on 3rd or 4th December 1099 and was buried in his cathedral at Old Sarum. His chasuble and staff were among the treasures there in 1222; but in 1226 his body and its tomb were translated to the new cathedral of Salisbury.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: Saint Fulgentius of Ruspe (462/7 - 527/ 533)
Fulgentius was bishop of the city of Ruspe in the Roman province of Africa, which is in modern-day Tunisia. At that time Africa and parts of the Near East were ruled by the Vandals, who were Arians, calling themselves Christians but denying the divinity of Christ. As a result Fulgentius’ early career was marked by a series of flights from persecution, as Catholics tried to maintain their faith under Vandal rule. It was a complicated time. In 499 he was tortured for saying that Jesus was both God and man; the next year the Vandal king Thrasamund, impressed by his talents, invited him to return from exile and become a bishop (Fulgentius declined, since he knew that Thrasamund had ordered that none but Arians should be bishops); two years later he was persuaded to become bishop of Ruspe in Tunisia but shortly afterwards he was exiled to Sardinia. Thrasamund invited him back in 515 to debate against the Arians but exiled him again in 520.
In 523, following the death of Thrasamund and the accession of his Catholic son Hilderic, Fulgentius was allowed to return to Ruspe and try to convert the populace back to the faith. He worked to reform many of the abuses which had infiltrated his old diocese in his absence. The power and effectiveness of his preaching were so profound that his archbishop, Boniface of Carthage, wept openly every time he heard Fulgentius preach, and publicly thanked God for giving such a preacher to his church.
Liturgical colour: white
White is the colour of heaven. Liturgically, it is used to celebrate feasts of the Lord; Christmas and Easter, the great seasons of the Lord; and the saints. Not that you will always see white in church, because if something more splendid, such as gold, is available, that can and should be used instead. We are, after all, celebrating.
In the earliest centuries all vestments were white – the white of baptismal purity and of the robes worn by the armies of the redeemed in the Apocalypse, washed white in the blood of the Lamb. As the Church grew secure enough to be able to plan her liturgy, she began to use colour so that our sense of sight could deepen our experience of the mysteries of salvation, just as incense recruits our sense of smell and music that of hearing. Over the centuries various schemes of colour for feasts and seasons were worked out, and it is only as late as the 19th century that they were harmonized into their present form.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||1 Timothy 4:16 ©|
Take great care about what you do and what you teach; always do this, and in this way you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.
|Noon reading (Sext)||1 Timothy 1:12 ©|
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, and who judged me faithful enough to call me into his service.
|Afternoon reading (None)||1 Timothy 3:13 ©|
Those who carry out their duties well as deacons will earn a high standing for themselves and be rewarded with great assurance in their work for the faith in Christ Jesus.